Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Judicial bench fail...

So I was sitting here, pondering on a post to write about this article.  I had plans to gently chide our British friends, reminding them that, as Jeremy Clarkson once put it, "We don't live in a free country".  He was talking about lighting a cigarette in a car at the time, but the humorous observation still stands. 

Sadly, while collecting my thoughts and perusing the rest of the news, I came across this article, a follow up to the original article.  I then sought out the original video so as to see what was recorded, since video evidence is hard to refute.  That video is, well, disappointing as evidence.  If that was the basis of the victim's entire evidence, I could see why the case would be dismissed.  However, I have read in several different articles that the police officer who took the report testified that the defendant admitted on the night of the incident that he did, in fact, lay hands upon the victim.  If this is the case, and the officer testified to this in court, then we now have a case for harassment or even assault. 

However, my real issue is not with the dismissal.  My issue is with the tirade that the judge took upon himself to subject the victim to in court.  The judge is a long standing member of the military reserves and has spent time on other countries, several of those years in Iraq.  For that we thank you sir.  Your service is appreciated and a shining example of service to the defense of our country.

Unfortunately for your court ruling, we are in the United States of America, not Iraq.  Freedom of speech is first and foremost here, even if the person speaking is an ass.  If we apply your level of legal interpretation here, I would be free to go rough up Fred Phelps clan at their next protest in your state and walk away scott free because they offended my culture.  I own two copies of the Koran (and three Bibles and a Torah) and I still don't agree with your tirade from the bench.  Yes, I have listened to the audio.  Having listened to that, I suggest that you take a vacation from the bench, or just retire, since it is obvious that your understanding of the job has been clouded by your personal experiences.  You are not impartial, as a judge should be, and you did not take the same amount of time or effort to remind the defendant that he is in America, where religious freedom applies to everyone and all religions, not just his religion.  Your decision should have just recorded that there was not enough evidence to find the defendant guilty, nothing more.  Everything else you stated was opinion, and those are like armpits - Everyone has them and they all stink.  

So, unfortunately, I cannot sit here and make fun of the place where Great Britain used to be.  Apparently, we have slid into the same hole. 


Sunday, February 19, 2012


Don't they have laws that stop this sort of thing in the UK?  I could have sworn they did...

Five men injured in Homerton shooting

Five men have suffered gunshot wounds during a shooting in east London.  Police officers had been called to Homerton High Street to reports of gunfire in the early hours.  The ambulance service attended but no-one was found. Later, five men went to two separate hospitals and have been treated for minor gunshot injuries.
A police spokesman said there had been no arrests and appealed for anyone with any information about the shooting to come forward.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Yes it was sad, but...

I realize that it was sad to hear that Whitney Houston passed away at the age of 48. The world has lost a talented entertainer.  My sympathies go out to the family.

However, that it should be surprising that someone who has had all of the personal issues (admitted to and suspected) and has abused their body such as was seen over the years just doesn't make sense.  Even if one turns into the paragon of healthy living, damage done prior to that point is still damage done.  No, I was not surprised. 

Why bring this up?  Because I am tired of turning on the TV, looking at the news sites and listening to the radio and hearing about details of her death day in and day out.  She's gone.  Please let the family grieve in peace.  Get on with reporting news that we need to know, not rehashing this news story in a different way every day.  This is why more and more young people look to The Daily Show for accurate news than CNN.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Visiting the USS Iowa

Today my family had the opportunity to visit the USS Iowa, walk aboard and speak with WWII veterans, one of whom served on the ship.  It was an amazing opportunity.  I took our digital camera as well as the Blackberry (as a backup camera) fully charged.  We were only allowed to visit the area directly around Turret 1 and under the barrels of Turret 2, but you'll find no complaints from me.  There were a number of vets there to talk to the guests and give them information on the ship and it's history. 

 It was a little sad to see the condition that the exterior of the ship was in due to almost a decade in the nearby ghost fleet.  However, the guides tell me that the interior is in excellent shape and the exterior is really in better shape that it looks.

 The decking on the forward part of the ship is Douglas Fir, as opposed to the rear which retains a good amount of the original Teak decking.  Apparently for some reason they switch to the Douglas Fir in the 80's, I would imagine due to cost, and that has not stood the test of time like the Teak decking.

This is a view that I didn't think I would ever get in person.  Oh my...

This is Turret 2.  The red arrow barely visible on the side of the turret is pointing to where a 5 inch shore gun put a round directly on the turret during one of the battles in WWII.  All it did was dent the armor.  Turret 2 is now a memorial site, and as such I am told that the only members of the public that will be allowed to enter are the families of the sailors who died in the tragedy of April 19, 1989.

Soon, the USS Iowa will begin her last journey, a transit down the California coast to Berth 87 in the Port of Los Angeles.  Since the city of San Francisco decided to decline hosting the ship on the waterfront adjacent to the USS Pampanito, the bidding was reopened and the Pacific Battleship Center eventually was awarded the ship.  San Francisco's loss will be LA's gain.  I wish them well and I hope they do the ship justice. 

In addition, there were several other organizations in attendance with displays in an adjacent warehouse. 

A training cockpit from the Blue Angels.

A Sheridan tank from the Littlefield Collection, hosted by members of the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation.  That, by the way, is another amazing place to visit.  I wore out my camera and Blackberry batteries taking pictures on that trip. 

All in all, a great way to spend the afternoon. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

TSA Security Theater

I was reading an article today by Don Phillips, formerly of The Washington Post, which applied a sound fisking of the TSA and its VIPR program without getting obnoxious.  He points out a fact that most people are unaware:  The TSA cannot go onto private property without permission.  Unfortunately, the airports are long compromised, but the railroads, when presented with demands of unrestricted access on unannounced timetables, told the TSA where to go, how to get there and which horse to take.  I have always like the railroads, but now I love them.

Don linked to the TSA blog site where our freindly TSA Blogger Bob happily tells us what a great job the TSA is doing.  He also links to one of the more entertaining blog entries, where Bob admits that the VIPR team made a mistake but it was all for the safety of the travellers.  I am reminded of a routine used by Bobcat Goldthwait onstage about Ollie North's testimony in the Iran/Contra hearings:  "well, Senator, yes I did stab that puppy 42 times in the head, but when American Lives are at stake..." 

Blogger Bob, I gotta tell you, nobody really believes that you do the blog for the enjoyment.  You're paid to do it so that the TSA can attempt to present a positive face.  The comedic comments thrown in really don't do it any good.  Comedy is all about timing.  You need a new watch.  Point of interest: All of the weapons seizures happened just as often before the porno scanners because, well, metal detectors and x-ray machines allow the discovery of guns and knives just as well.  Since you don't swab every liquid container and just throw all offending containers in the garbage without testing, we all know it is just security theater, nothing more.  You are no more keeping me safe from terrorists than the unarmed security guard sitting at the front desk in my place of employment.

Tell you what, Blogger Bob, how about you start addressing the other points of TSA performance?  I'll give you the rundown and you can tell me about the grand job the TSA does based on these items:

1.  An agent working at the x-ray machine conveyor stole $5000 from a jacket going through the screening procedure, hid it in a blue latex glove and passed it off in a restroom.  The agent has been arrested and charged with grand larceny.  She was also suspended pending the investigation.
2.  Last month, an agent who worked searching checked luggage at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was suspended after the owner of a stolen iPad used the tracking feature on the device to locate it at the agent's home. Police found seven other iPads there.
3.  Also in January, authorities charged an agent at Miami International Airport with swiping items and luggage and smuggling them out of the airport in a hidden pocket of his work jacket. He was arrested after one of the items, an iPad, was spotted for sale on Craigslist.
4.  Two other former TSA agents at JFK were sentenced on Jan. 10 to six months in jail and five years' probation for stealing $40,000 from a piece of luggage in January 2011. The agents, Coumar Persad and Davon Webb, had pleaded guilty to grand larceny, obstructing governmental administration and official misconduct.
5.  Last year, a TSA supervisor and one of his officers pleaded guilty in a scheme that lifted $10,000 to $30,000 from passengers' belongings at Newark Liberty International Airport. A federal judge sentenced the supervisor, Michael Arato, to 2½ years in prison and his subordinate, Al Raimi, to six months of home confinement.

Those are just five points, which I know is just the tip of the iceberg.  I read the news and do keep up on the numerous news stories about the arrests of TSA officers.  And, please, try to address these without the condescending attitude that you use to discount the joke that is the behavior of the TSA agents operating in our airports today.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sometimes it's too much, sometimes too little...

So I was entertaining writing another post on the Fast and Furious debacle and the obvious work that the current administration is putting into making the issue disappear.  However, I just can't say anymore than has already been said by others, so I'll just leave it in the hands of Issa and Grassley.

On the flip side, I read about two different approaches by law enforcement.  Both are interesting studies on modern law enforcement and what sometimes shows as good judgement by those in the profession. 

The first is in the sleepy town of Fitchburg, MA, where we find that the FBI can conduct a 2 year investigation and still manage to storm the wrong apartment.  In addition, the ideal implement the decided on for a quick entry to the apartment was a chainsaw. 

Let that sink in.  I'll give you a minute. 

Yes, apparently the FBI agents thought that a ram or sledgehammer was a little too light for this application, so the decided that cutting the door open with a chainsaw would be more expedient.  Having used a chainsaw many times, I am left speechless that this sounded like a good idea.  If the dangerous criminal that they were seeking (um, next door) was armed and they started with the sawing, he likely could have put several rounds into the federal lumberjack with a fair bit of accuracy, since the saw would show him where the target was.  Instead, all of the YEARS of meticulous investigation and planning put them at the wrong apartment terrorizing a mother and her 3 year old daughter.  The best part of the article is the FBI response: 
The FBI released a statement on Tuesday saying in part, “The agent repeatedly apologized for the mistake," and reimbursed her for the damaged door.

There should be a head (or six) on a pike for this, you arrogant ass.  Paying for the damage is the least you could do, not release a statement acting like she should be happy that you decided to visit that morning.

On the flip side, we wander over to San Diego, where apparently people bashing in your car and home windows with blunt objects does not require a police response because, well, your life isn't really in immediate danger.  I mean, yea, they showered you with glass in your living room and all, but did they actually threaten you? 

Folks, that right there is a perfect example of why you should not blindly rely on law enforcement to be there if you are attacked in your home.  Even in the best scenario, when seconds count they are minutes away.  Or, in this case, 13 hours for a phone call to take a report away.